Lord Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, is to chair UK 2070, an independent Commission into the UK’s regional inequalities, which has been launched today at a reception in the House of Lords.
The Commission’s inquiry will examine the nature of inequalities across the regions and nations of the UK, explore the costs and consequences, identify underlying causes, and make recommendations for new policies to tackle the problems of poorer places, whilst supporting the sustainable growth of successful places.
The Commission’s membership includes Emma Degg CEO of the North West Business Leadership Team, along with academics from five universities and the USA’s Lincoln Institute for Land Policy (Cambridge, MA), as well representatives from the CBI, Core Cities, IPPR North, National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), West Midlands Combined Authority, and the consultancies AECOM and Barton Willmore.
They will be supported by a research partnership involving the University of Manchester, the University of Manchester and University College London, with additional support from the Heseltine Institute at the University of Liverpool and the University of Cambridge.
Lord Kerslake said: ‘There will always be differences between places. But Britain has some of the most extreme regional disparities in the developed world and these impose great costs on society and handicap our economic performance and productivity. It does not have to be like this – as many other countries demonstrate’.
Emma Degg, Chief Executive of the North West Business Leadership Team said:‘Post Brexit business wants to see clear national priorities to underpin investor confidence and regeneration, as well as the growth of areas with economic potential. These must be sustained over the long term, rather than as ‘stop-start’ initiatives. New towns like Warrington and Milton Keynes show how long-term investment commitments have delivered some of the highest local economic growth rates in the UK, in the north and in the south’.
Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council and Chair of Core Cities said:‘In part the problems are caused by historic factors. But we need to find out whether they are also shaped by government decisions which have not been thought through, concentrating resources for growth and development in already successful and congested places and generating demands for new infrastructure, whilst putting pressure on the environment’.
Armando Carbonell from the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy, USA, which is also helping to fund the study, said:‘We need strategies for places left behind as much as places with economic potential, in Britain and America alike. Laissez faire and abandonment is just not an option: the social and political consequences are too damaging and could put our social cohesion and democratic institutions at risk. We hope to learn much from this inquiry which will be of relevance to both Britain and to the USA’.
Andrew Jones, Practice Lead, Design Planning & Economics said:“The UK2070 Commission will be looking at the nature of inequalities across the country and how the focus can be turned to more balanced economic futures. As part of this, consideration will need to be given to understanding disparities within areas experiencing pressures of growth in and around London, where the opportunity to optimise economic benefits for the national economy is throttled by the lack of an integrated strategy which reaches across local administrative boundaries, recognising that benefits accrue when places work together.”
The Commission will carry out its work over the next 12 months, delivering a final report in November 2019. Alongside commissioned research and papers the Commission will launch a call for evidence, to be received by November 2018.
In addition to support from Lincoln Institute, resources and support for the Commission’s work have been provided by the University of Manchester, the University of Sheffield and University College London and a Sir Hugh and Lady Sykes Charitable Trust.